India is endowed with rich and diverse natural, historic and cultural resources. It is a palette of different cultures, religions, traditions, home of various forms of art & handicrafts, music and literature, architectural styles et al. However, it is yet to explore the full potential of such resources to its full advantages.

Past efforts of conserving historic and cultural resources in Indian cities and towns have often been carried out in isolation from the needs and aspirations of the local communities as well as the main urban development issues, such as local economy, urban planning, livelihoods, service delivery, and infrastructure provision in the areas. Heritage areas are neglected, overcrowded with inadequate basic services and infrastructure, such as water supply, sanitation, roads, etc. Basic amenities like toilets, signages, street lights are missing. Multiple institutions and unclear regulatory framework for financing and managing urban heritage assets and landscapes, as well as weak capacity of Urban Local Bodies have created major challenges for managing these heritage cities.

In order to make these cities vibrant, competitive and to address some of stated challenges, a planned approach is necessary for tapping the unlimited potential underlying in tourism and heritage sector unleashing the power of skilful artisans and traditional economy. This will also enable smooth dovetailing of modern concept of local economic development through locally available knowledge, resources and skills. The heritage development of city is not about development and conservation of few monuments, but development of entire city, its planning, its basic services, quality of life to its communities, its economy and livelihoods, cleanliness, security, reinvigoration of its’ soul and explicit manifestation of its character.

With this background, Ministry of Urban Development, Government of India, launched the Heritage City Development and Augmentation Yojana (HRIDAY) scheme, with a focus on holistic development of heritage cities. The scheme aims to preserve and revitalise soul of the heritage city to reflect the city’s unique character by encouraging aesthetically appealing, accessible, informative & secured environment.

HRIDAY strategizes its efforts like planning, development, implementation and management for ensuring the sustainable growth of selected heritage cities in partnership with State Governments. It offers a paradigm shift in India’s approach to city development, bringing together urban planning/economic growth and heritage conservation in an inclusive and integrated manner with special attention on livelihoods, skills, cleanliness, security, accessibility and service delivery. The scheme will work through a partnership of Government (Central/State/Local), private sector, academic institutions and local community, combining affordable technologies.

As a pilot, this flagship scheme of the government focuses on revitalising twelve heritage cities, namely Amrawati (Andhra Pradesh), Gaya (Bihar), Dwaraka (Gujarat), Badami (Karnataka), Puri (Odisha), Amritsar (Punjab), Ajmer (Rajasthan), Kanchipuram and Velankanni (Tamil Nadu), Warrangal (Telangana) and Mathura and Varanasi (Uttar Pradesh).

The scheme will broadly focus on four theme areas i.e. Physical Infrastructure, Institutional Infrastructure, Economic Infrastructure & Social Infrastructure for reviving and revitalizing the soul of Heritage City. Identified cities/towns will be required to prepare Heritage Management Plan (HMP) for the city/town and develop and execute Detailed Project Reports (DPRs) for identified projects (after consultation with all stakeholders) for availing assistance under the scheme, through either empanelled agencies, state para-statals, Public Sector Undertakings, Special purpose vehicles et al.

HRIDAY is a central sector scheme, where 100% funding will be provided by Government of India. The duration of this scheme is four years i.e. from December 2014 to March 2018. The scheme would be implemented in a mission mode.